Types of Nanorobots being Developed for Use in Healthcare

By Earl Boysen, Nancy C. Muir, Desiree Dudley, Christine Peterson

Nanorobots are definitely not ready for prime time, but the vision of the day when nanorobots will be at work zapping pathogens in the bloodstream is very much alive in nanotech labs around the world. Nanotechnology researchers are developing robots about the size of the cells in our bodies that have a propulsion system, sensors, manipulators, and even an onboard computer that can perform tasks on nanoscale objects.


Here are a few of the nanorobots that are being developed for use in medicine:

  • Microbivore nanorobots: These nanorobots would function similarly to the white blood cells in our bodies, but they are designed to be much faster at destroying bacteria. This type of nanorobots should be able to eliminate bacterial infections in a patient within minutes, as opposed to the weeks required for antibiotics to take effect.

    Microbivore nanorobots are designed so that antibodies attach to the particular bacteria the robot is seeking. After bacteria attaches to an antibody, an arm grabs the bacteria and moves it to the inside of the nanorobot, where it’s destroyed. Bacteria is then discharged into the bloodstream as harmless fragments.

  • Respirocyte nanorobots: These nanorobots would function in a similar way to the red blood cells in our bodies; however, they are designed to carry much more oxygen than natural red blood cells. This design could be very useful for patients suffering from anemia.

    These respirocyte nanorobots would contain a tank in which oxygen is held at a high pressure, sensors to determine the concentration of oxygen in the bloodstream, and a valve that releases oxygen when sensors determine that additional oxygen is needed.

  • Clottocyte nanorobots: These robots function similarly to the platelets in our blood. Platelets stick together in a wound to form a clot, stopping blood flow. Depending on the size of the wound, significant blood loss can occur before a clot is formed.

    A system of clottocyte nanorobots would store fibers until they encounter a wound. At that point, the nanorobots would disperse their fibers, which would then come together to create a clot in a fraction of the time that platelets do.

  • Cellular repair nanorobots: These little guys could be built to perform surgical procedures more precisely. By working at the cellular level, such nanorobots could prevent much of the damage caused by the comparatively clumsy scalpel.